UK Government To Force IT Training At Suppliers

If you want government money, you’ll have to show your IT  training plan, says skills secretary John Denham


Companies winning Government IT contracts will have to spend money on training, skills secretary John Denham announced at a government-industry summit.

The Government spends nearly £14 billion a year on IT services, and wants to use this as a lever to get its suppliers to train more, plugging the oft-lamented IT skills gap. IT is seen as central to future jobs and economic growth, enabling the UK to build jobs when the recession lifts, but IT is heavily dependent on skills, said Denham.

“In tough economic times like these, there is a danger that employers will reduce their investment in the skills of their employees as they look to cut costs,” said Denham. “But research shows that companies who don’t train are 2.5 times more likely to fail than those who do.”

All the Government’s CIOs have promised to look at requiring successful contractors to show they have a development plan for their workforce, before they get government money. The move could be necessary, because research from Deloitte suggests companies are in danger of losing skills through IT cuts.

“We have to make every taxpayer’s pound work as hard as we can,” said Denham. “Wherever possible Government spending should not just provide good public services, it should also ensure young people are trained in the skills we need for the future.”

The summit, at the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), brought Denham together with the Government’s chief information officer John Suffolk, and IT industry representatives to discuss how to use procurement, and other similar “levers” to promote investment in skills.

The IT industry needs around 131,000 new people each year, and most of these will be graduates, according to e-skills, the Sector Skills Council for IT. Existing staff also have to up-skill with business skills as well as tech abilities.

UK digital industries now produce around 10.9 percent of the UK’s total gross value added (GVA), at around £86 billion, and they could contribute another £35 billion over the next five to seven years, according to the DIUS release.

The summit included the CIOSs, CTOs and other C-level executives from the NHS, DIUS, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Suppliers who were there included Fujitsu, EDS, IBM, Accenture, Logica, British Airways, Atos Origin and Cable & Wireless.

Young people are apparently ready to move into IT because they see good prospects in the sector, according to a survey released today. And, although IT employment has been hit by the recession it is still better than in 2000